The USS Iwo Jima, a United States Navy amphibious assault vessel, recently spent ten days in the Costa Rican port city of Limon. The ship came to Costa Rica filled with army doctors and other volunteers to offer humanitarian aid to this poor region of the country.
While many Americans are searching for Costa Rica vacation packages to visit this tropical paradise as a vacation destination, this ship came with another goal. The doctors received numerous patients onboard the ship, offering free health care services, while other Army volunteers rebuilt two local schools.
The ship gave medical attention to over 1,000 Costa Rican citizens each day and trained the local police to deal with disaster relief, which is a necessary skill in this coastal area often flooded by heavy rains.
The mayor of Limon greeted the aid mission with an “open-arms welcome,” but a few locals were angry at the ship’s trip to Costa Rica and continued presence in this country that abolished its armed forces in 1949. Although Costa Rica is often praised for not maintaining a military, the country is therefore often left helpless in the face of natural disasters, such as earthquakes, hurricanes and floods, as there is no national force to deal with these kinds of problems.
The visit of the USS Iwo Jima was requested by the former Costa Rican President Oscar Arias to help the impoverished Caribbean region gain much-needed aid and medical services. Costa Rica is just one stop of many for this ship, which during its campaign called Continuing Promise 2010, will provide assistance in other third-world countries including Haiti, Colombia, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Suriname and Guyana.
The United States vessel holds over 2,500 crew members, including 100 volunteers, 150 medical workers, 500 Mariners and 1,000 sailors.
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